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GPs go forth

GPs saw 13 patients on Christmas day under extended access opening hours

Exclusive GPs in Telford working on Christmas Day saw just 13 patients through the extended access service that was commissioned

NHS Telford and Wrekin CCG confirmed the service was used by a total of 13 patients on 25 December and that the money paid to the GPs working the shift was a 'nationally agreed rate', with the level of cover also in line with national requirements.

The CCG refused to confirm how much money had been spent on the service, but Pulse understands at least two GPs were on shift and were paid £250 per hour, for 12 hours each.

The CCG also said that just over 50 patients were seen both on Boxing Day and on New Year's Day.

Local GP practices told Pulse the extended access arrangements had led to 'blind demands' for more GP appointments in the region, resulting in 'money wasted'.

Two primary care networks in Telford and Wrekin provided the extended access service for the Christmas bank holiday period - Teldoc PCN and South East Telford PCN.

But Clive Elliott, business partner at Court Street Medical Practice in Telford, said the region's out-of-hours provider, Shropdoc, already provided a 'fantastic' service to patients wanting appointments outside of core surgery hours

He said giving patients even more access to GP appointments when there is a GP staffing crisis 'is not recognising the real issue'.

Mr Elliott said: ‘This top-down, one size fits all approach to NHS services means that local needs are ignored and, consequently, money wasted.

‘In Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin we already have a fantastic out-of-hours provider called Shropdoc. So to blindly demand even more GP appointments with fewer GPs to provide them is not recognising the real issue.

‘It is about time some thought was given to the professionals who deliver patient care rather than constantly increasing pressure on doctors. It is no wonder people feel demoralised.’

A spokesperson for NHS Telford and Wrekin CCG said: ‘The CCG is mandated to provide GP appointments every day of the year including bank holidays. Patients are able to book appointments by contacting their own surgery, with the line diverted to the local extended access hub when the surgery is closed.

‘On Christmas Day the GP extended access service was used by 13 patients in Telford and Wrekin. This increased to over 50 on both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

‘Extended access and other out-of-hours services are helping to reduce pressure on A&E at what is always a busy time of year.’

A Pulse investigation in 2018 revealed around 25% of evening and weekend appointments were unfilled as the extended access policy was being rolled out across England.

The GP partnership review, published in early 2019, concluded that extended access services are pulling GPs away from practices due to the attractive pay and workload.

Readers' comments (13)

  • the corrosive effect of political decisions!!

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  • hmmm.....
    i say christmas in Telford next year .....

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  • £3000 for 12 hours shift and 13 patients seen.
    I could do it for 1 month and have 11 months holiday .
    Why not pay a gp incharge of his patient £100 and hour and get much better outcome.

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  • No patient will say no to increased access as they do not have to pay.
    Without linking a direct cost to the patient, demand will be unlimited.
    Most will not bother with a freebie that is the NHS.

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  • shropdoc have problems getting docs to do the overnight shifts so they have to pay extra for these types of shifts - as does everyone else. there aren't enough locums for all the work that is out there so its a locums market. the pay rate hasn't really changed for the last 10 years so if you can get the same pay as a day GP why bother with night and weekend shifts, unless it suits your style of consulting. otherwise the continuity of care is lacking and its pot luck what doc you get. patients may like it but then again they also like eating too much, being obese and getting diabetes so you can't really take what they say as any reasoned argument. perhaps if they started paying GPs £300 an hour and no pension tax limit - as equivalent to similar professionals with the same level of qualifications or the same as our plumber, then perhaps there would be more GPs around to do the routine appointments and one would not have to buy in the extended or OOH service as much or at all. They are far more costly to provide than a GP in a practice, have less continuity of care and thus at risk of making more mistakes which in the end will cost the NHS far more than a generous pay rise for GPs in practice. We only get payments for our practices of

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  • good for them . on xmas day I wouldn't work even for that to be honest though but I have young kids

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  • A junior lawyer on a NORMAL day charges £280/h (Barrister you are looking at at least double that), encouraging people to fight it out in court but a GP who does good treating illness is not worth that amount.
    I thought medical schools have higher entry requirements than law school?

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  • @TruthFinder - although your sentiment is correct, your comparison is wrong. You are quoting the retail rate (i.e. the price when actually doing work) for the lawyer, compared to the salary rate of the doctor.

    The retail rate of these Christmas Day doctors could be £2750 per hour (assuming 10 mins per patient), which is why running this service is ridiculous.

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  • doctordog.

    Tempting, but time away from work probably worth more.

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  • DrRubbishBin

    I'd be fascinated to know what 'urgent problems' these 13 patients had and what good was done with the money that was spent. Is there any data on what was up with these people and what interventions these '£250/hr' GPs administered?

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